How to stop worrying so much? Take control in just 7 steps

Worry doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles.

It takes away today’s peace.” 

Battling anxiety is an emotionally draining experience many of us struggle with every single day, especially in these uncertain times. We often find ourselves in a constant loop of worrying about the future and stressing over the past, failing to appreciate the present.

But why do we worry so much? 

According to psychologist Kailey Horan, the act of worrying “gives us a false sense of something called control.” When we worry about a certain situation, we wrongly convince ourselves we would be better prepared to handle it. However, in reality, worry does nothing in your favor. It doesn’t help you overcome your troubles. It doesn’t erase the past. It only messes up your mind and destroys your peace.

Perhaps you already know that. But what you may not be aware of is that you can teach yourself how to stop worrying or, at least, contain it.

Dr. Horan recommends practicing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to control your concerns and gain back your emotional freedom. What’s more, she says it could happen in 5 minutes or less!

Here is what you have to do, as advised by the expert: 

1. Identify the trigger or situation.

The first step you need to take is to analyze the reason for your concerns. What made you feel so anxious? Was it a “What if…” though? What if I can’t handle the pressure? What if something bad happens? What if I mess up?

2. Rate the intensity of your worry.

So, you already know what triggers your anxiety. Now, try to rate its intensity. To do that, use a 1 to 100 scale. For instance, the emotional tension you experience may be 70/100, or even 100/100. How would you rate it?

3. Write down unhelpful thoughts and images associated with the worry.

When we worry, we fill our minds with various scenarios, often the worst possible ones, that make us utterly dread the moment we feel troubled about. So, think of the reason for your worries you determined earlier and write down what you imagine would happen.

4. Examine the evidence that supports the worry thought.

Now, try to find factual evidence that validates your concerns. Take a moment to think of how realistic your worries actually are. How likely is that scenario you wrote down on the previous step to happen?

5. Examine the evidence against the worry thought.

Answer yourself the following question: What facts show you that this worry thought is not true? Investigate your mind, search through your memories, and see whether this fear of yours has ever happened before. How many times have you overcome something similar? What is the likelihood of you doing it again? Rate that too with the same scale from the second step.

6. Insert more realistic, balanced thinking.

Imagine it was not you but a dear friend who goes through what you are dealing with. What would you tell them? How would you advise them to handle the situation? Applying the same level of compassion for yourself as you would for a loved one is what would encourage balanced thinking.

The question Dr. Horan suggests you ask yourself is: “In the spectrum of my life, how important is this situation?” Answering this will give you the clarity you need to declutter your mind from the unnecessary harrowing scenarios that fill your headspace and don’t leave room for anything else.

7. Re-rate intensity of anxiety and worry.

So, here we are. This is the last step you need to take on your journey to containing your worries and gaining back emotional strength. How anxious are you right now from 1 to 100?

Of course, this exercise may not work for everyone. If you couldn’t lower your anxiety levels by going through these steps, don’t be hard on yourself. It would only aggravate your worries. Instead, reach out to someone you trust and go through it together. Seeing the problem from someone else’s perspective may help you more than you believe.

Did this practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy help you decrease the intensity of your anxiety? Would you suggest another exercise for reducing stress levels? Leave a comment to let us know!

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